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Addiction and Mental Health Treatment for College Students

Addiction and Mental Health Treatment for College Students

Alcohol and drug abuse is a common issue in the college “party scene” and culture. Many students start recreationally experimenting with drugs at an early age, and access to the drugs becomes easier to obtain without parental supervision 24/7. The development of addiction at such an important part of a young person’s life can spell serious trouble if not properly addressed. Banyan Stuart is looking at instances of addiction in college students and what can be done in these scenarios.

Common Causes of Substance Abuse in College Students

This is seen repeatedly. Students’ stress and anxiety levels increase when they experience dramatic lifestyle changes, and leaving for college can be one of these stressors. If these issues go unaddressed professionally, students may lean towards poor coping mechanisms such as self-medicating and abusing drugs. 

Common issues students struggle with include:

  • Battling societal pressures of fitting in with a new group of friends
  • Lack of social skills and confidence to make new friends and create relationships
  • Academic pressure/pressure of establishing a career or major and making good grades
  • Drinking and drug abuse in Greek or campus life
  • Eating disorders in college/low self-esteem and body dysmorphic disorders
  • Binge drinking
  • Adjusting to a new and unfamiliar place away from home

As stated before, party culture is a major component in the development of many addictions in college students. Substance abuse in these young adults may not always start out of a necessity to focus or stay awake. Rather, recreational settings and curiosity can be the tipping point for a lifelong struggle of addiction and dependence.

Some college students are hesitant to get help for a drug or alcohol problem because they don’t think their drug and alcohol abuse is a real problem. They assume that if they fulfill a certain number of their obligations, it is not possible for them to suffer from such a disease. Sadly, living in denial can lead to more problems later. Another factor that keeps students from getting help is that they think treatment could set them back from graduating on time.

At the Stuart, Florida, Banyan Treatment Center, we encourage people who believe they are struggling with alcohol or drugs to come forward and seek help when they are ready. It is important to realize that student health must be a priority above everything else. Getting addiction treatment and mental health counseling for college students should be more important than coursework, social events, and even graduation. If someone is not healthy and on a downward spiral, they will not be able to enjoy the rewards of a college graduation and career opportunities that follow.

Questions Worth Asking Yourself

It is important for college students to ask themselves questions, including, “Am I drinking too much?” “Have my sleeping and eating patterns changed to unhealthy ones?” “Am I missing out on classes and failing?” and “Have I stopped engaging in healthy habits like working out?” This is the first step in assessing any potential problems. While college students and substance abuse often go hand in hand, the prevalence of these occurrences should not detract from the dangers involved. If one’s addiction becomes unmanageable, then it is time to step back, take a good look at what is going on, and explore what the correct solution is.

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The solutions are simpler than you may believe. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers.

Can I return to college if I leave for addiction treatment?

In most cases, many students return to school and take a semester off to attend treatment. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself first and putting school on hold. The amount of time spent in addiction treatment is different for everyone, and it can range from under 30 days to over 90+ days. The end goal is to make sure you return to school sober and healthy, however long that may take. Taking medical leave to get your health on track is nothing anyone should ever be ashamed of, and it is encouraged by ethical educators and medical professionals. 

Some students may find themselves asking the question, “Can I go to school and attend treatment at the same time?” Depending on where your school is located and what outpatient programs are available in the area, this is a common schedule. There are intensive outpatient (IOP) programs that offer day and night therapy, and they are typically 3 to 4 hours of group and individual therapy per day, 3 or 4 days per week.

What are some drugs that require medical detoxification (detox)?


Alcohol is the most abused substance among college kids. Underage drinking is extremely common in universities around the country. Withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, fatigue, nausea, shaking, sweats, and vomiting.


It’s a stimulant that many college students rely on as a study aid to focus or even stay up all night and cram for an exam. College kids have become addicted to Adderall without even realizing it, creating a higher intake to get the same effect. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, nausea, upset stomach and digestive issues, dry mouth, restlessness, and reduced appetite.


Benzos, commonly known as Valium and Xanax, are some of the most dangerous drugs to quit because withdrawal symptoms can be deadly. Students with anxiety are likely to abuse benzos to relieve the stress of college life. Heavy benzo use may lead to hallucinations and seizures if students try to quit on their own without supervised medical detoxification.


Though often considered a non-habit-forming drug, ecstasy is addictive and can cause severe medical issues. Withdrawal creates insomnia and depression as the brain tries to compensate for dealing without the drug and lower dopamine levels. This requires supervised medical detox.

I want to talk to someone about my stress and anxiety, but I do not know who to reach out to.

Mental health counselors are located at most colleges and universities across the nation. Nowadays, it’s very commonplace for colleges and universities to have their own clinic or rehabilitation center on-site or affiliated with a local resource. The pressure of college can be a lot to take for many students, and some of these students have a co-occurring disorder that led to their drug use. Addiction treatment for college students is crucial to their success, and treating underlying mental health problems is key to a successful recovery.

If you decide to come to Banyan, we can help treat:

  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Eating Disorders
  • Gambling Addiction
  • Sex Addiction

If you or a loved one needs addiction treatment and is in college, please call us at 888-280-4763. We can help you find resources and programs that suits your schedule and gets you back on track for graduating with honors!

Related Reading:

The Connection Between College Binge Drinking and Eating Disorders

Substance Abuse in College Students

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Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Addiction and Mental Health Treatment for College Students
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